THD NewsDesk, New Delhi: As positive inputs for India’s Covid vaccines continue to flow in from different corners of the world, Sri Lanka is the latest nation to approached it for procuring the vaccines. Ramesh Pathirana, the Minister of Plantations said, “Sri Lanka is likely to go only with the AstraZeneca vaccines for the second phase of vaccination as the Chinese and Russian vaccines are not ready yet”.
Sri Lanka has ordered 13.5 million Oxford AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines from India, in addition with 500,000 doses of the same vaccine as a gift, which kicked off Sri Lanka’s vaccine rollout in late January. “Sri Lanka may not use Chinese vaccines in the second phase of immunization because the Chinese vaccine has not submitted the papers relating to phase three trials”, said Mr Pathirana.
“Initially, Sri Lanka ordered for 10 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute of India for the first vaccination round, which cost them USD 52.5 million. Further, it ordered 3.5 million doses directly from AstraZeneca Institute of UK under the COVAX program”, said Mr Pathirana.
“Regarding the campaign of the second round of the vaccinations, the government will be directed by the best medical experts, who later advised that the booster jab should be given after four weeks”, said Mr Pathirana. However, in recent weeks, health experts have said that delaying the second dose by three months could increase the efficacy of the vaccine.
Having received the Covishield vaccine under the ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy donated by India, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the Sri Lankan President thanked the country for its generosity. Last month, India announced it will send COVID-19 vaccines under grant assistance to Sri Lanka and seven other countries – Bhutan, the Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles, Afghanistan and Mauritius.